Nick Cave wants conviction. That's the only instruction he gives to the dancers who perform inside his "soundsuits"—and he expects the suits to have that same shoulders-thrown-back quality when they're standing still inside a museum on mannequins.

The conviction fills the void created by the fact that these suits hide the race, class, and gender of their wearers. Who are these beings and what do they want? How we interact with them, and what do we think they might do? They have the potential to rewrite the world in our imaginations.

Here's what Cave has to say for himself about what he does, and why he does it. His show at SAM, Meet Me at the Center of the Earth, is up through June 5.